Russia says Ukraine needs'meaningful steps' before meeting

Russia says Ukraine needs'meaningful steps' before meeting

Kiev needs to take meaningful steps before any serious talks can take place, Moscow says.

If the Ukrainian side offers meaningful steps that would make direct talks worth it, that possibility will be considered, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Kiev has threatened to withdraw from the peace negotiations and immediately retake any territory under Russian control with the help of weapons from the West.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Andrey Rudenko said that the conditions are not yet in place for a face-to- face meeting between Russian and Ukrainian delegations.

As soon as we have meaningful agreements on which a substantive exchange of views can be held, this issue will be considered. Such a thing doesn't exist yet, Rudenko told reporters.

The two sides met on March 29 in Istanbul, Turkey. The documents Ukraine sent to Russia deviated from what had been agreed upon, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on April 7 that Kiev was not negotiating in good faith.

On Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the talks would be off if a pseudo-referendum is announced in any new pseudo-republics of Ukraine, or if the remnants of the neo-Nazi Azov unit is trapped in the Azovstal steel factory, who claim they are accompanied by women and children there.

Zelensky promised to keep fighting Russia as part of a bid to get more weapons from the West, as part of a meeting with the US foreign and defense ministers over the weekend.

It will not be a matter of eight years, like from 2014, it will be immediate. If we have enough of them, we will immediately begin to recapture the occupied territory, he said.

Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, after Ukraine s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk Agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied it plans to retake the two republics by force.